Friday, 19 September 2014

A couple of hours at Rainham

I paid a short visit to Rainham today, on a very warm, sunny and still lunchtime, in the stellar company of Ian and Simon. It actually would have been a longer visit had I not had a travel problem too annoying to mention that delayed me by nearly an hour. The annoyance quickly faded when I met up with the gents and we began our leisurely anticlockwise circuit with a first look over the scrape. No waders, but a few Wigeons were installed, reminding us that autumn really is well underway.

Yep, we're well into September and Odonata variety is shrinking away. However, there were still lots of Common Darters about, as well as the usual squadrons of Migrant Hawkers.

Heading towards the woodland, we found a high-speed Blackcap, a furtive Whitethroat, and beyond the edge of the woods a secretive Reed Warbler. None of the above wished to be photographed.

We paused at what I'm pretty sure is 'Troll Bridge' to look for the reported Willow Emeralds, and after a few minutes found a pair flying in tandem, just before they vanished among the lower foliage of a willow. Then I noticed another, this one posing nicely but distantly atop a bit of emergent veg. My photos were all overexposed - rescued this one as best I could in Photoshop. An Odonata lifer! The spread of this species has been most impressive over the last couple of years, maybe I'll find one close to home next year.

Ian, who has no truck with the non-feathered, non-backboned lifeforms, had gone on ahead, but Simon and I took our time going past the grassy bit near the Ken Barratt hide, as we were both keen to see a Wasp Spider. This relatively slimline female was sitting in a quite open position, allowing me to photograph nearly all of her.

We caught up with Ian and had a look out over the pools, finding Pintail among the more standard wildfowl, and a handful of Black-tailed Godwits. A Hobby or two were hawking to and fro, and way out over the marshes at the back, two Buzzards lazily wheeled.

I think it was about here that I found a nice settled male Migrant Hawker, completing the holy trinity of photographable Odonata today.

There wasn't much doing from the Tower Butts hide. A vocal Little Grebe in the ditch nearest us. A closer-but-not-close-enough Hobby. A few Little Egrets drifted over the further reaches of the marsh. We carried on our walk.

Now the Hobby came a bit nearer, though sadly the light was against it (or rather against me and my aspirations to take nice Hobby photos today).

The big Buddleia patch off the main path is still in flower, but the only butterfly taking advantage of it when I had a look was this Peacock.

Getting near the Dragonfly Pools, we started to hear pinging calls, and eventually located this Beardie, plus another. They were not in the reeds but defying convention by perching within a thickish clump of some kind of (deceased) umbellifer.

I nearly squashed this caterpillar with my hand, as it was on a railing along the return bit of boardwalk, at a spot where we paused (for reasons I've forgotten). Sorry, caterpillar. It is a Reed Dagger, off to pupate somewhere.

Approaching the one-way gate, we heard and then briefly saw a Kingfisher, nipping along the big channel here. It perched briefly in view among the reeds before noticing us looking at it and flying off back the way it came.

We went through the gate and walked along the riverside. Here Ian paused to scope a very, very distant duck which turned out to be a Common Scoter, and I photographed this gorgeous Small Copper. We were fast running out of time, as both the gents had places to be, and so it was a brisk walk to the cafe for a cooling beverage, then home.

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